From Hero Cop to Prison's “Most Dangerous”

Former Philadelphia Police Officer Richard DeCoatsworth being held in special custody

Philadelphia Police Officer Richard DeCoatsworth was a hero cop -- lauded for helping to chase down the man who shot him in the face.

But now, the former officer is the one imprisoned -- in a cell reserved for the city's most dangerous criminals.

DeCoatsworth allegedly forced two women to take drugs and perform oral sex on him at gunpoint on May 18. Two weeks earlier, police say, he also forced one of those women into prostitution at the Days Inn hotel in the Lawncrest section of Philadelphia.

The former officer also allegedly assaulted his live-in girlfriend in a May 9th incident at his home along the 2700 block of Salmon Street in the Port Richmond section of the city, according to authorities.

The 27-year-old is charged with 32 crimes and is being held on a uncharacteristically-high bail of $60 million.

As he awaits further legal action, DeCoatsworth is spending his days in one of three cell blocks at the Philadelphia Prison System’s Detention Center. The 50-year-old facility is one of six prisons at the city’s correctional complex in Northeast Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Prison System spokeswoman Shawn Hawes says DeCoatsworth is being held in what’s called “Close Custody.”

“Close Custody units confine the most dangerous inmates who are considered a severe threat to public safety, correctional staff and other inmates,” she said. “Inmates in Close Custody present the highest risk.”

DeCoatsworth has a trail of questionable incidents levied against him during his handful of years on the Philadelphia Police force. Some of the incidents happened when DeCoatsworth was still in the police academy.

The City of Philadelphia settled one incident of alleged aggressive behavior out of court for $1.5 million.

In 2008, DeCoatsworth was honored as a Top Cop for chasing after a suspect who shot him in the face. Police say he radioed in enough identifiable information about the suspect -- during the chase and before collapsing -- to help other officers catch the shooter.

The officer’s heroism earned him an invitation to sit next to First Lady Michelle Obama during President Barack Obama’s first congressional address at the U.S. Capitol.

DeCoatsworth retired from the police force on disability in December 2011.

He is scheduled for another court appearance on June 17.

Contact Vince Lattanzio at 610.668.5532, or follow @VinceLattanzio on Twitter.

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